It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
The last two weeks have been physically grueling and emotionally intense. First, I drove with my Loving Husband and with Sausage up to western New York state for my grandmother’s memorial service and to help my father deal with her possessions, which felt like a strangely mournful looting. Then, less than 48 hours after our return home to Maryland, we were driving again — this time to New Jersey, where Sausage would be staying with my mother-in-law while we flew to Oklahoma for a friend’s wedding.
It sounds trite to say that in all this I learned a lot, but it’s true. I don’t think I’m ready to talk about the things I learned with regard to my grandmother’s death — that’s all too raw. But I will happily talk about the things I learned in Oklahoma City, where I attended the beautiful wedding of a dear friend and attended the damn good party that she and her new husband threw afterward.
Lesson The First: Oklahoma City Is … Special
Things that are great about OKC: the Bricktown Brewery‘s wheat beer is pretty damn good. The people were invariably nice and polite, and did their best to be helpful. The streets are clean. The botanical gardens are beautiful.
Things that are not so great: we could not find a salon that could accommodate four mani-pedis on a Friday afternoon. There are no proper drugstores in downtown Oklahoma City (so don’t bother looking); but we did find a convenience store that sold Band-Aids for my blistered feet, at 25¢ a pop. And, after some searching, we found a place that was open at 2:00 on a Saturday afternoon and would sell us drinks, which saved us from a very long day with nothing to do.
If you go to Oklahoma City, you’d better rent a car because it’s the least walkable city ever; don’t forget to pack sunscreen, because there are very few places to buy it downtown; and in general, don’t schedule too much time out of your Oklahoma vacation to spend in OKC. Go see the buffalo or something instead.
I will name him George, and I will hug him, and pet him, and squeeze him.
Lesson The Second: I’m Not 22 Anymore
I forgot, for a little while this weekend, just how ancient I am. I danced, I drank (oh, man, did I ever drink), I shouted to be heard over loud music. I slept two hours before catching an early flight home, stumbling onto the plane still a little drunk from the night before.
And then I suffered. I suffered the pain of physically realizing how far I’ve come from my 22-year-old self. For example, some things that I learned the hard way:
- My feet can’t handle all that carousing anymore. Blisters and bunions and badness, oh my!
- I can’t jump up and down on the dance floor anymore. At least, not unless I have a REALLY empty bladder.
- I start to get sleepy at around three in the afternoon, so events that start at 8:30 in the evening will largely find me tucked in a dark corner, nursing a beer and my bunion, struggling to stay awake.
- My appearance has changed enough that people who knew me in my late teens and early twenties don’t recognize me.
There I am. Partying like it’s 1999.
Really, I should have known better than to try to party like I did back in college, but after more than a year as a stay-at-home-mom, finding myself sans child and surrounded by adults and freely flowing booze, I felt like I had escaped from some sort of cheerio-scented, diaper-filled prison. And as for not being recognized, well. It had been fifteen years in some cases. Who doesn’t change in fifteen years? I will choose to think of it as being caused by my more-flattering haircut and hard-earned confidence, and less as a result of crow’s feet and lost youth.
Lesson The Third: I Have Some Wonderful Friends
I was lucky this weekend in that an old friend, one whom I hadn’t seen in eleven years, was also able to come to the wedding. We stayed in the same hotel and spent a lot of time together, catching up. We had been very close way back when, and somehow that closeness and trust had survived the years. This got me to thinking about just how lucky I’ve been in my life to have so many friends like that — people that I’m friends with no matter how much time and distance there is between us. This weekend’s lovely bride is one, my eleven-years-gone friend is another, and I can think of several more women who I know I could call on any time, even though we haven’t been in close touch for years. Women with whom I’ve had such a great connection that we’ll always be friends, no matter what. For someone who has trouble making friends and who finds social situations to be anxiety-inducing, this seems pretty remarkable. I’m so, so lucky to have this kind of friendship in my life.
We always said we’d be friends forever. It’s starting to look like we really meant it.
So now I’m returning to normal life — blog, baby, theatre, and all the accompanying craziness. But I feel better having cut loose a little, having reconnected with some of the people I love the most, and heck, having been to Oklahoma. Who would have thought?